I like to think that I am relatively in touch with what’s going on in the book blogging world. However, until very recently, I must confess that I didn’t really know anything at all about BookTube, let alone how big it has become over the past few years. It turns out that there is a whole other world out there of book vloggers known as BookTubers who create video blogs about books on YouTube.
Described in the Guardian as “the younger cooler sister of book blogging”, BookTube is making written blogs like mine seem rather quaint and old-fashioned in some ways. At first glance, it appears to be largely dominated by teenagers, particularly girls influenced by other YouTubers like Zoella, talking about YA books which is unsurprising given that it’s a platform which will appeal more to younger readers. However, there are also a hell of a lot of YA book blogs too as well as BookTubers who talk about non-YA books, so I don’t think the differences in terms of genre are as big as they first appear to be. Moreover, I don’t think the Man Booker Prize organisers would have chosen to have official vloggers rather than bloggers posting about this year’s longlisted books if the demographic of viewers was solely restricted to teenage girls.
On the other hand, I haven’t found very much at all about translated fiction on BookTube whereas I follow several bloggers who focus on world literature and champion other niche areas in the book world. One exception is Sanne at Books and Quills who recently interviewed Laura Watkinson about her translations of ‘The Letter for the King’ and ‘The Secrets of the Wild Wood’ by Tonke Dragt from Dutch into English.
The best vloggers are very effective at communicating an interesting and engaging personality whereas I think it’s harder for me to know how I come across in my writing especially to people who don’t know me in real life. For that reason alone, I think some areas of BookTube have more commercial potential than blogs particularly as lots of BookTubers have far larger audiences in the tens of thousands compared to the biggest blogs I’m aware of. However, I also like the relative anonymity of blogging and that I don’t need to make myself look presentable first before sharing my thoughts with the world.
However, many of the most successful BookTubers started out with blogs and have moved on to vlog channels or maintain both. I have no plans to branch out into the BookTube world myself and I will be sticking to blogs as my main source of reviews as it’s the platform I’ve developed with and use myself. Although they cater for different audiences, I think there will be an increasing amount of crossover between the two platforms in the future mostly because they are actually not that different. After all, both blogs and vlogs are community-based platforms run by people who genuinely love books and want to create discussions about them.
Finally, here are a couple of other book vloggers who I think are worth watching:
‘The Fault in Our Stars’ author John Green’s VlogBrothers channel isn’t just about books but I enjoy his reviews which are very succinct and not just about YA. Those with short attention spans or busy lives will appreciate his summary of 18 great books you probably haven’t read in just 3 minutes and 25 seconds:
Jen Campbell is a bookseller, author of ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ and one of the official Man Booker Prize vloggers. Here are her thoughts about BookTube:
What do you think? Is BookTube the future of book reviewing? Do you run a book blog, vlog or both? Which vloggers do you recommend?